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Factionalism in the Time of Cornavirus Part 5: Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

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“Either McDonnell must be removed as president or the LRC will be forced to throw out victims of the witch-hunt from its ranks” Labour Party Marxist.

Labour Against the WItch-hunt is effectively a bloc between the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committe), better known as the Weekly Worker group, and prominent (that is, 2 prominent people) of the Labour Left Alliance (LLA). Also included is the Tony Greenstein Party.

Greenstein has been barred from Twitter but is famous for, amongst many other things in the same vein, this Tweet:

Marlon Solomon on Twitter: ""The NEC's case is that Greenstein's ...

The LLA’s supporters include,

  • Tosh McDonald, former president Aslef, Doncaster councillor
  • Asa Winstanley, journalist
  • Jackie Walker
  • Graham Bash
  • Chris Williamson
  • Professor Moshe Machover

Have they gone to ground during the pandemic?

No.

Labour Against the Witch-hunt informs the world today

We are pleased to announce that Labour Against the Witchhunt, in cooperation with the Labour Left Alliance, is planning a counter-conference on the ‘leaked’ report. Confirmed participants so far include Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Prof David Miller, Asa Winstanley, Moshe Machover, Greg Hadfield and Tony Greenstein.

LAW’s sponsors include:

  • Alexei Sayle, comedian
  • Ken Livingstone
  • Professor Moshé Machover, Israeli socialist and founder of Matzpen
  • Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers Union
  • Ken Loach, film director
  • Noam Chomsky, author and activist

LAW’s honorary presidents are Ken Livingstone and Moshé Machover

The Labour Left Alliance reproduces LAW’s attack on Jeremy Corbyn,

…the conference will also look at the many mistakes made by the Corbyn leadership: The report shows that they decided to support the lie that the Labour Party is overrun by antisemites. They sought to appease the Israel advocacy groups and the self-appointed leadership of “the Jewish community” and behaved as though they believed this lie. In the process they displayed an inability to recognise real antisemitism, while eagerly trying to get rid of activists like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth and Chris Williamson, none of whom can be accused of even a trace of antisemitism.

In preparation for the conference the Weekly Worker has this Friday published an attack on John McDonnell and the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) by the Labour Party Marxist, Stan Keable.

Keable is also the Secretary of LAW.

Run, run, run away

“Stan Keable of Labour Party Marxists fears that technical reasons are being used to hide rotten politics

The Labour Representation Committee’s executive has decided to ‘postpone’ the planned June 27 online conference till some time in September. Why?”

These are the key sections of the article,

…t is very likely that the real reason goes by the name of John McDonnell, the LRC’s president. The fear is surely that, if the conference went ahead, it would have been attended by many victims of the ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt. To address such a conference could end McDonnell’s glorious political career in the Labour Party with his expulsion. After seeing what happened to fellow MPs Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, he knows that is a real prospect.

…..

John McDonnell has undergone a sickening political decay. He, like Momentum owner Jon Lansman, helped lever the Labour Party into adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s so-called ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism: a definition which equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Not only that: McDonnell supported the reactionary “zero tolerance” doctrine in the face of the blatantly dishonest witch-hunt against socialist and leftwing activists. Such treachery, such a failure to stand in solidarity with wrongly accused comrades, whose innocence he cannot have doubted, should not be passed over in silence. He certainly should have been stripped of his position as LRC president.

Keable concludes,

Keeping McDonnell as LRC president, as its figurehead, is like allowing Ramsay MacDonald to remain Labour Party leader after he had defected to lead the national (Tory) government in 1931. It will guarantee the LRC’s inability to struggle effectively for socialism (which does not appear amongst the LRC’s ‘Aims and objectives’, by the way4) or even for a “fully democratic” Labour Party (which does appear, in rule 2). As Keir Starmer’s new Blairite witch-finder general, David Evans, gears up as general secretary for a purge of the left likely to dwarf what the Labour right was able to get away with during the Corbyn period, either McDonnell must be removed as president or the LRC will be forced to throw out victims of the witch-hunt from its ranks.

Dodging this choice is impossible. It is either him or us.

For many people who know at least some of those involved this is sad more than anything else.

Some activists we still have respect for have got caught up in the eternal games of the Weekly Worker: the cycle of provocation/repression/recruitment.

In the meantime these tweets indicate continuing cause for concern about anti-semitism on the left.

The conference promises to interest many people with these views together.

 

 

 

 

 

Shock as Spiked- Brendan O’Neill – Defends Dominic Cummings against “embittered cultural elites”.

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Who would have guessed that Spiked would say this?

 

While ordinary people tweet, write, and speak out about Dominic Cummings callous arrogance – and even this,   First senior Tory breaks ranks over top aide’s ‘lockdown breaches‘ – there’s a brave voice ready to be put the alternative view.

Dominic Cummings broke the lockdown? Good

The hysteria over his trip to his parents’ home is driven by nothing more than Remainer revenge.

Dominic Cummings broke the lockdown? Good. Welcome to the sensible minority, Dom. According to a survey published a week ago, 29 per cent of Brits have busted out of the lockdown straitjacket and done things they shouldn’t have done. I salute these people. Sensibly and carefully bending the rules to visit one’s parents, read a novel on a beach or, in Neil Ferguson’s case, to shag one’s polyamorous lover are wonderful buds of human rebellion in this dystopia we find ourselves in. It isn’t Cummings who should be ashamed – it’s the shutdown Stalinists who are calling for his head because he dared to visit his folks.

In full fettle of a flow the great man continues,

Listening to the Cummingsphobic Remoaners in the chattering classes, you could be forgiven for thinking they did this in order to cough their germs all over every motorway and lane in the land.

For those who can be arsed there’s plenty more to read,

It’s the embittered cultural elites seeking a Brexit scalp. It is a political vendetta disguised as concern about the pandemic.

More on those ‘elites’:

In the Telegraph another figure, David Goodhart, of the red-brown Full Brexit, writes, Jim posts, on tis:

Our society asks a lot of political leaders and their advisers. We should try to cut them some slack

David “The Road To Somewhere” comes up with a fascinating new definition of what is – and isn’t – elitism, in today’s Sunday Telegraph, while defending Dominic Cummings: “There is an anti-elitist piety, often expressed by the academic or medical branch of the same broad elite, that refuses to accept the specialness of leaders [in case it’s not clear, Goodhart thinks that’s *bad*] … So it’s important that Mr Cummings stays. Even if his actions were technically outside the letter of the law -which is far from clear – there is surely, an extreme circumstances loophole, and more broadly we need to cut our rulers (and their top advisers) some slack.

 

We expect the Red Brown Front to castigate this whingeing liberal:

Here

Skwawkbox Spreads Panic on Coronavirus, “Johnson’s aim is to allow the virus to spread until at least 90% of the UK’s population has been infected – which will involve a huge death toll.”

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Fake News Site Says, “Johnson’s aim is to allow the virus to spread until at least 90% of the UK’s population has been infected – which will involve a huge death toll.”

 

The fake news site says:  JOHNSON’S HERD-IMMUNITY PLAN WOULD MEAN LETTING 90% OF UK CATCH COVID-19 – AND A MILLION OR MORE DIE

Johnson’s ‘herd immunity’ plan appears to mean a decision by the Tory government to stand back while – in the most optimistic scenario – hundreds of thousands of our people die.

To Johnson, Cummings and their fellow fans of eugenics, that might just mean ‘the herd’. But to you and me, that’s our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues – if we’re lucky enough to survive their plan ourselves.

The people the government says its first duty is to protect – and under that kind of a government, there is no reason at all for such optimism.

Postscript: Johnson’s refusal this afternoon to close schools, when Ireland will do so from tomorrow, is entirely in line with his ‘plan’.

Conspis are already commenting on the site,

Johnson, Cummings and the string pullers are revealing their true nature. What a tragedy that the ” moderates, centrists” Blairites, Labour first, Starmer, Thornberry et al all have played a part in these hideous people having the levers of power.

Another,

Bet those pensioners that selfishly voted Tory didn’t realise they were volunteering for a far right eugenics experiment with them as the guinea pigs.
Bet they are foaming at the mouth over their Daily Bile.

Not too long ago Swawkbox restricted itself to publishing stories attacking Keir Starmer, and Lisa Nandy , giving a platform to poor old  Richard Burgon, “by far the outstanding candidate in that contest”,  and this kind of piece,

REVOR PHILLIPS SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXPELLED WELL BEFORE NOW – BUT HIS CASE ILLUMINATES CENTRIST DOUBLE-STANDARD

 

Now it’s a return to the old days with scaremongering to the fore: endless stories about Coronavirus.

What old days?

 

These old days:  “DISABLED CLAIMANTS TOLD: 2 YRS TO GET JOB OR BE SANCTIONED FOR A YEAR.”  17th of July. 2017

And this, also in 2017.

On 16 June, in an article headed “Video: Govt puts ‘D-notice’ gag on real #Grenfell death toll #nationalsecurity”, Skwawkbox took up the claim made by grime MC Saskilla on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme that the number of victims in the Grenfell Tower fire was far greater than had yet been officially admitted, with as many as 200 people having died.

Skwawkbox used this claim to give credence to rumours that the government was engaged in an attempt to prevent the media reporting the true extent of the disaster: “At the same time, multiple sources told the SKWAWKBOX that the government has placed a ‘D-notice’ (sometimes called a ‘DA Notice’) on the real number of deaths in the blaze.”

This was followed by a screenshot of an entry from Wikipedia, which defined a DA-Notice as “an official request to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security”. The Skwawkbox article then continued: “In effect, although voluntary, this amounts to a gag on the mainstream media — and note that it is applied for for reasons of national security only.”.

….

Faced with the collapse of its story, Skwawkbox was forced to back off and post a grudging retraction: “EDIT: the SKWAWKBOX is now satisfied that no D-notice was issued. No plain answer to this blog’s question of other restrictions on information about lives lost at Grenfell has yet been provided, but a ‘D-notice’ (or DSMA-notice as they are now termed) was not.”

Did Skwawkbox apologise for getting the story wrong and offer assurances that there would be no repetition of this stupid and provocative reporting? You must be joking. Instead, Skwawkbox’s proprietor was stung by the well-deserved criticism of his article into posting an indignant defence of his shoddy journalistic methods. In a quite astonishing display of chutzpah, he declared that he himself had been the victim of “fake news”!

Written by Andrew Coates

March 12, 2020 at 6:27 pm

After Morning Star Apology for “cartoon which was offensive to trans people” controversy continues.

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Image result for morning star trans cartoon

 

There have been further strong reactions to this cartoon, followed by a belated retraction.

Last Sunday the Morning Star issued a statement.

An apology for the cartoon published last Tuesday

The Morning Star apologises unreservedly for the publication last Tuesday of a cartoon which was offensive to trans people.

The cartoon had not been authorised for publication and its appearance in the print edition represents a failure to follow our own procedures for approving submissions. It was removed from online editions of the paper the same day, as soon as it was seen by the editor.

A notice was sent round staff on Tuesday reminding them of the process by which cartoon submissions must be approved before publication and we are determined that such a lapse in standards will not recur.

Again, we apologise for the offence caused by this cartoon, especially to our trans contributors and readers whom we have let down.

The Metro picked up the story:

Newspaper apologises after transphobic cartoon sparks outrage.  Lucy Middleton

A newspaper has been forced to apologise after printing a transphobic cartoon this week. The picture, published in socialist paper The Morning Star on Tuesday, shows a crocodile slithering into a small pond containing newts. In speech bubbles, the newts can be seen saying, ‘But you can’t come in here! This is our safe space!’ The crocodile then replies: ‘Don’t worry your pretty little heads! I’m transitioning as a newt!’

Critics of the cartoon, drawn by Stella Perrett, accused it of perpetuating false stereotypes about trans people being predatory and dangerous to others in society. One person on Twitter wrote: ‘Could barely believe my eyes seeing this dehumanising, fascist imagery in a socialist paper.

Mumsnet became involved in the controversy,

This statement is interesting:

Kristina Harrison (prominent gender. critical transwoman, WPUK supporter) just posted this on Twitter – apparently it was published in the Morning Star.

KH wrote “This cartoon appeared in The Morning Star earlier this week @M_Star_Online It is a horrific, generalised demonisation of trans people which does not belong in a civilised society, let alone a socialist newspaper. I condemn it utterly. Trans people & progressive opponents of identity politics are owed an unequivocal apology, an explanation & reassurance about what action is being taken to ensure that the line between fierce but legitimate argument and bigotry is never crossed again. Totally unacceptable. (not posting a direct link as I don’t want to facilitate any pile on against Kristina, clearly this is a sensitive personal issue for a transwoman).

Comments are supportive of KH so far. I thought it’d be a good topic for discussion here – does this ‘demonise trans people’ or does it baldly illustrate safeguarding concerns with self-ID? Is it different from the popular/accepted(?) ‘Fox identifying into the henhouse’ analogy? Hopefully we can keep things civil and respectful with no personal criticisms of Kristina.

The issue for many  has not been about the freedom to offend, but the why a self-identifying left daily chose to publish this material.

The Morning Star is no defender of the absolute right to say what you want about anybody.

This is what one of their columnists  said about the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper-Casher murders in 2015,

Muslims held to a double standard

….some faux-left journalists who gave enthusiastic backing to the Blair-Bush wars and are now equally gung-ho about giving the widest possible circulation of material intended to enrage Muslims.

B52 liberal Nick Cohen accuses of cowardice those choosing not to carry anti-Muslim cartoons and alleges that radical Islam is winning successive battles, including effective introduction of a blasphemy law by means of self-censorship.

……

Why should running images of Mohammed be seen as the acid test of commitment to press freedom?

Powerful people’s wealth has prevented more stories from being published than pressure from any religious quarter.

Charles Windsor’s recent success in the pulling of a TV programme examining his finances exposes the reality behind claims of unlimited media freedom.

Would our freedom of expression be enhanced by publication of cartoons depicting Jesus being buggered by the Holy Ghost or a naked Muslim woman with a piece of blue cloth protruding from her anus and the comment that burkhas can be worn but only on the inside?

The only thing worse than publishing such puerile work would be reacting repressively by banning it.

But,

Why would any left-wing journalist or cartoonist jeopardise that essential by insulting fellow workers simply because they can?

 

Women’s Place UK  criticised the cartoon on reasonable grounds:

The crocodile cartoon that appeared in the Morning Star this week works against the respectful debate and discussion to which WPUK is committed – it was misjudged and offensive and it is right that the Morning Star has apologised.

WPUK has been calling for respectful discussion since our inception and it is to their credit that the Morning Star has hosted many articles from different viewpoints on the subject which have enabled this discussion to take place. These articles have brought a clarity to such discussions.

We are grateful to those trans people who have worked with us, spoken at our meetings and supported the sex based rights of women and girls. Their solidarity has meant so much to so many and we stand beside them now.

We have been the subject of much offensive imagery and we have always condemned it. We are happy to do so now.

Let’s move forward progressively and in solidarity.

23rd February 2020

UNISON has responded:

Left-wing newspaper that published ‘vile transphobic cartoon’ slammed by UK’s largest trade union

Pink News.

The Morning Star was condemned this week for printing a “dehumanising, fascist, transphobic” cartoon – and now, Britain’s largest trade union has said that the newspaper has sunk to “a new low”.

UNISON, which represents staff who provide public services, said the “shocking, vile, transphobic cartoon” saw “the paper sink to a new low”.

“When I saw the image shared on social media over the weekend, I assumed it had been published in the Daily Mail, not for one moment did I think the dreadful drawing had appeared in the Morning Star,” wrote Liz Snape, UNISON’s assistant general secretary, in an open letter to the newspaper’s editor, Ben Chacko.

Snape added: “Images like this peddle the dangerous myth that trans people are a threat, when they’re the ones whose safety is most at risk. The irresponsible publishing of such appalling images does nothing to make them feel more secure.

“By publishing this hurtful cartoon, the publication so many trade unionists support and hold dear risks appearing no better than the right-wing media they despise.”

Solidarity has published this analysis:

The Morning Star (linked to the Communist Party of Britain) has been forced to apologise for printing a transphobic cartoon by Stella Perrett, published in the print edition of Tuesday 18 February.

The cartoon depicting a slavering, slithering crocodile ogling terrified and defenceless newts and invading their “safe space” with the excuse that the crocodile is “transitioning to a newt”. The cartoon is grossly offensive, showing trans people as predatory and deceitful and cis women as weak and in need of protection.

As the cartoon circulated online, trade union LGBT+ groups began to organise against the Star, calling for withdrawal of union funds. A petition was set up by PCS Rainbow Collective which attracted hundreds of signatures in a few hours. The Morning Star was called out on Twitter.

The cartoon was removed from the online version of the paper with an apology claiming it “had not been authorised for publication and its appearance in the print edition represents a failure to follow… procedures for approving submissions.” The apology doesn’t explain how the cartoon was commissioned and printed without the editor noticing. The apology also skirts around the fact that the cartoon was not an aberration, but a logical conclusion of a longstanding pattern of the Morning Star publishing transphobic articles. The moral panic around “protecting women’s spaces” from trans women stems from seeing trans women as innately dangerous and threatening to cis women.

…………

The cartoon has shone a light on the official labour movement’s extensive funding and support for the Morning Star. According to the Star, Community, CWU, FBU, GMB, NUM, POA, RMT, and Unite are represented on its management committee.

It has yet to be seen if the apology is enough to dampen the calls for unions to distance themselves from the paper. I certainly hope not. The Morning Star should be made to account for its scapegoating of an oppressed minority, dividing workers against each other and propagating the myth that our rights run counter to each other.

Though our unions fund the paper, most of us do not regularly read it and would be shocked by the lies that flow readily from its pages. As well as transphobic cartoons, activists in Boycott the Morning Star have unearthed cartoons by Stella Perrett containing antisemitic caricatures which were published in 2016.

The paper repeats Chinese state lies to cover the persecution of the Uyghur people, one of the Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region. It celebrated the “liberation” of Aleppo by Assad. It repeated right wing lies about migrants driving down wages.

Reactionary, conservative politics dressed up as left-wing are the bread and butter of the Morning Star. It is about time our unions stopped paying for it.

While this furore continues the following event in planned.

The presence of  anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner and stalwart of the Arron banks backed ‘Trade Unionists’ Against the EU (supported by the Morning Star and the Socialist Party)   Paul Embery is causing concern.

This is a recent Embery tweet:

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 27, 2020 at 2:10 pm

Affaire Milla: 16 Year Old Gay Lycéenne Faces Death Threats for Criticising Islam, Minister of Justice says, “Insulting Religion” is an “Attack on Freedom of Conscience”.

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Misogynist and Homophobic Hatred in Response to Mila’s Criticism of Islam.

L’affaire Mila expliquée.

Le Monde, and

(Adapted)

It could have been just another live video posted by a teenage girl on Instagram on a Saturday. It has become what is now called the “Mila affair”. This homosexual high school girl with purple hair was insulted and threatened with death for having made insulting remarks towards Islam on January the 18th.

The case took on a new dimension when the Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, was invited to speak on the subject on Europe 1 on Wednesday January 29. She was accused of wanting to put into  question the right to blaspheme (which is not not a crime in France), declaring that insulting a religion “obviously constitutes an attack on freedom of conscience” .

….

Mila is 16 years old, she lives in the Lyon region, and is passionate about singing. It is on Instagram that she shares her opinions, speaks about her life, posts videos of her, chats with her followers, and talks openly openly about her homosexuality.

In a video she expressed this view,

“  I hate religion, (…) the Quran there is only hatred in there, Islam is shit. (…) I said what I thought about it, you are not going to make me regret it. There are still people who will get excited, I clearly don’t give a damn, I say what I want, what I think. Your religion is shit, your God, I put a finger in her arsehole, thank you, goodbye.

This was the reaction,

“I received 200 messages of pure hatred per minute”, fake accounts are created in her name, she explains to Bellica (an ‘identitarian’ rightist site) , which has posted screenshots of the ultra violent messages that she received .

Personal information concerning her, such as her address or the name of her school, was disclosed.

She says,

Unlike them, I did not insult anyone, nor threatened, nor called for violence against anyone. What I did was blasphemy, general criticism of religions, and nothing else . “

But,

“I can no longer set foot in my lycée and I can’t even change my  lycée because it’s the whole of France that wants my hide” .

This was another response,

On Thursday January 23, the general delegate of the French Council for Muslim Worship (CFCM), Abdallah Zekri, estimated in the programme Les Vraies Voix on Sud Radio  : “whoever sows the wind harvests the storm”. “She sought this, she is responsible,” he said again, while saying “against” the death threats she received.

Mila has problems at helycée where some of the students are thought to have been at the origins of the violent threats.

Her case is being dealt with by the educational authorities.

A procedure to prosecute MIla for inciting race hate has been dropped, while another investigation into the origins of the death threats has been launched.

In France after the assertion of the Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet the “affaire Mila” has taken a political dimension.

If she soon backtracked, saying the death threats are no acceptable, questions remain as to why she ever came out with this defence of hatred.

The Minister of Justice returns to her remarks concerning the Mila affair

France 24.

“We have the right to criticise a religion, it’s very clear. There is no question of coming back to this,” added Nicole Belloubet to Radio Classic’s microphone on Thursday.

It evokes a “formulation error”. Nicole Belloubet, the Minister of Justice, made a point, Thursday, January 30, the day after her remarks strongly criticized on the Mila affair. The Keeper of the Seals condemned the cyber harassment and death threats against the 16-year-old girl on Europe 1, adding that “insult to religion is an attack on freedom of conscience”.

“I didn’t have to say that, for sure”, said Nicole Belloubet, at the radio of Radio Classique. “We have the right to criticise a religion, it’s very clear. There is no question of coming back to this”, she added.

he minister had already started, on Wednesday afternoon, a mea culpa, believing that his “expression may have been awkward”“Insults and discrimination on the grounds of religious affiliation are offences. That is what I meant”, she said, denouncing a controversy “ridiculous”. And to add: “I have absolutely no justification for the offense of blasphemy.”

A stock response on the British left these last years has been to dismiss people like Mila.

Saying that Islam is shite obviously does not hold up to the high standards of those, like Terry Eagleton, who think that religious truths are a separate kind of verity that unbelievers cannot understand.

Others, who promote a communitarian view of truth, think that nobody should be rude about a community of belief.

Even the ‘free speech’ warriors of Spiked and people like Douglas Murray consider that saying nasty things about ‘gammons’ should be halted.

Charlie Hebdo came to the defence of Mila, unbowed, recalling their own bloodied martyrs.

Yesterday they published this:

Editorial by Riss: Teenagers to the stake!

Have you heard of the boot torture? It involved encasing each of the suspect’s legs between two wooden planks, tying all four tightly together and then driving wooden wedges between the two central planks, thus crushing the limbs if the suspect refused to admit the crime of which he was accused. The Chevalier de La Barre was one of the most famous victims of this torture. In 1766, aged 20, he was condemned to have his legs crushed, initially with two wedges and then with four, before having his tongue ripped out, being decapitated and being thrown into the flames. His crime: blasphemy. He was accused of having failed to doff his hat to a passing religious procession in the saintly town of Abbeville and, what is more, of mutilating a crucifix. His decapitated body was burned with a copy of Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary nailed to the torso.

Today, blasphemy is no longer punished by decapitation: it is not even against the law. Nevertheless, in 2020 there are still people clamouring for death in its name. The Chevalier de La Barre was only 20 when he was tortured. He read licentious and impious books that did not respect religion. He had the insolence of his age – an age that fears nothing – and desired only to live in freedom.

At the ripe old age of 16, the age of revolt, Mila could have been his younger sister. Last week, online, she dared to express her anger against the injustice and aberration of faith, particularly that of Islam, in terms that the Chevalier de La Barre probably wouldn’t have disavowed. Mila won’t be subjected to the boot torture, only to insults on the social networks and death threats on the Internet. Routine treatment nowadays for those who refuse to submit to religious authority.

Her anger against the arbitrariness of religion is all the more moving because it recalls that of another young girl of her generation, the now famous Greta Thunberg. They both seem to be rebelling against the same injustice: adults’ cowardliness. Adults have done nothing to stop the planet disintegrating before our eyes. Nor have they done anything to fight religious intolerance, which is becoming more invasive every day, like an oil slick that we can no longer hold back. At 16, it’s impossible not to be worried by the thought that this is the world where you have to try and live: a planet asphyxiated by exhaust gases and the toxic preaching continually emitted by the diesel engines of Islamism and fanaticism. And you can’t count on adults to protest against the pollution filling our lungs and smothering our freedom of speech.

After first being insulted by the most stupid, Mila was threatened by the most fanatical and finally abandoned by the most cowardly. Her anger and sincerity should have elicited as much support as Greta Thunberg’s. But people have turned their backs on her out of fear and intellectual laziness, because her cause is less photogenic than koalas squealing when their little backsides are toasted by the flames of an apocalyptic fire. Above all, Mila is more dangerous. Here, we’re not talking about saving life on Earth, but saving our very skins. We refuse to admit that our society is capable of torturing the innocent with the same icy certainty as our ancestors at the Chevalier de La Barre’s time. We’re so full of our own modernity that we nonchalantly brush off the impassioned indictments of a Voltaire against the inquisitors, because they make us confront our cowardice. The boots in which we crushed blasphemers’ leg bones belong to the past. We no longer need them.

Smartphones, backed up by a few Kalashnikovs and well-sharpened kitchen knives, have taken their place when it comes to intimidating the insolent who refuse to bow before the faith of the fanatics and the resigned.

Charlie Hebdo n°1436

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 30, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Comrade Anti-Fascists, Greens, Kurds, Leftists: Check if you are on the ‘Counter-Terrorism’ List.

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Exclusive: Extinction Rebellion and Peta also named in anti-extremism briefing alongside Combat 18 and National Action.

Among the groups listed with no known link to terrorist violence or known threat to national security are Stop the War, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, vegan activists, anti-fascist groups, anti-racist groups, an anti-police surveillance group and campaigners against airport expansion. Communist and socialist political parties are also on the list.

Let the Rozzers know: I have written for the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty Publication Solidarity and even been on CND protests and Stop the War Coalition marches against war on Iraq!

Mind you that Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice does look a dangerous crew.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 18, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Authoritarian Populism: Tories Threaten Assessment of “Channel 4’s public service broadcasting licence” after Climate Debate.

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Image result for tub of lard have i got news for you"

Right Honourable Tub of Lard MP Set Dangerous Provocative, Partisan  Precedent for Channel Four’s Latest Escapade. 

Boris Johnson Is Threatening To Review Channel 4’s Broadcasting Licence After They Replaced Him With An Ice Sculpture At Thursday’s Debate

A Conservative source told BuzzFeed News that if they win the coming election they will reassess the channel’s public service broadcasting licence.

The inflammatory move came after Channel 4 said it would empty-chair the prime minister and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage at its climate change leaders’ debate, after the two leaders declined to take part.

The Huff Post repeats this story,

A Conservative source later told BuzzFeed News that if the party wins the coming election it will reassess Channel 4’s public service broadcasting licence.

“If we are re-elected, we will have to review Channel 4’s Public Services Broadcasting obligations,” the source said.

“Any review would of course look at whether its remit should be better focused so it is serving the public in the best way possible.”

The threat should not be taken lightly.

Attacks on press freedom in democracies

In some of the most influential democracies in the world, large segments of the population are no longer receiving unbiased news and information. This is not because journalists are being thrown in jail, as might occur in authoritarian settings. Instead, the media have fallen prey to more nuanced efforts to throttle their independence. Common methods include government-backed ownership changes, regulatory and financial pressure, and public denunciations of honest journalists. Governments have also offered proactive support to friendly outlets through measures such as lucrative state contracts, favorable regulatory decisions, and preferential access to state information. The goal is to make the press serve those in power rather than the public.

The problem has arisen in tandem with right-wing populism, which has undermined basic freedoms in many democratic countries. Populist leaders present themselves as the defenders of an aggrieved majority against liberal elites and ethnic minorities whose loyalties they question, and argue that the interests of the nation—as they define it—should override democratic principles like press freedom, transparency, and open debate.

In perhaps the most concerning development of recent years, press freedom has come under unusual pressure in the United States, the world’s leading democratic power. Although key news organizations remain strong and continue to produce vigorous reporting on those in office, President Donald Trump’s continual vilification of the press has seriously exacerbated an ongoing erosion of public confidence in the mainstream media. Among other steps, the president has repeatedly threatened to strengthen libel laws, revoke the licenses of certain broadcasters, and damage media owners’ other business interests. The US constitution provides robust protections against such actions, but President Trump’s public stance on press freedom has had a tangible impact on the global landscape. Journalists around the world now have less reason to believe that Washington will come to their aid if their basic rights are violated.

Freedom and the Media:A Downward Spiral

By Sarah Repucci, Senior Director for Research and Analysis

Freedom House.

 

 

How does this fit in with the wider Tory strategy.

There are efforts to normalise the Conservatives’ approach:

A better way of looking at them is in terms of British political history and the rise of Thatcher’s authoritarian populism.

Stuart Hall argued in The Great Moving Right Show (1978) that ‘Thatcherism’ was able to use the “language of ‘the people’, unified behind a reforming drive to turn the turn the tide of ‘creeping collectivism, banish Keynesian illusions from the state apparatus and renovate the power bloc…” It “brings into existence a new ‘historic bloc’ between certain sections of the dominant and dominated classes.” It was a “rich mix”, combining long-standing ‘organic’ Tory themes, “nation, family, duty, authority, standards, and traditionalism “with” a revived neoliberalism – self-interest, competitive individualism anti-statism.”

Today we have the xenophobia of people like key adviser Dominic Cummings warning about millions of foreign voters thwarting Brexit if Labour wins power. There is the (still unstable) attempt to create a bloc between footloose capital and others sectors who will benefit from alignment with Trump in a nationalist use of political power for economic benefit, and those fightended by a ‘globalised’ world. This, as described by Paul Mason, is a new form of neoliberalism, national neoliberalism (Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being. 2019)

The Tory and Brexit Party vision of democracy is not as form of society built on by popular rights, but rule by plebiscites and the personification of the Nation State by one Party. The abstraction of Sovereignty is  a puppet in the lap of Ventriloquists, Johnson and Farage.

The ‘popular basis’ of the present Moving Right Show is a “rich mix” of loathing for Metropolitan ‘elites’, rootless cosmopolitans,  decaying Labourist and old Tory nostalgia for family, flag and patriotism, and, old fashioned racism. Nostalgic for La terre et les Morts, both the Conservatives and the Brexit Party are prepared to control freedom of movement, to open and close migration as it suits their economic free-market project.

As for their racism, it is pitiful that The Times (cited above)publishes Collins’ article which reduces this deep xenophobia and hatred of outsiders in these terms,

The racism that exists in the Tory ranks is, according to most witnesses, generational and casual. That does not mean it does not matter — being on the receiving end of racism is never casual. It does, though, mean that the Muslim question will not greatly occupy the thoughts of the average Tory member. Very few of them will have a developed theory about how the madrassas are cultivating a religious cavalry to man the global caliphate. It’s just not a big deal to them. It is a small deal on which some of them hold stereotypically bigoted views.

The pro-Brexit camp are the dominated by nationalists, the majority cultural  nationalists, some blood and soil. The Tory wing, and more explicitly the Brexit Party wing, are motivated by a fear of immigration  and globalist ‘elites’. Their views on Muslims and Jewish people may well be prejudiced, but that is not the central nationalist issue.

In this atmosphere, as a symbol of cosmopolitan leftism Channel Four is clearly in their sights….